HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Anyone driving along Ala Moana Boulevard in Kakaako has seen the work being done at 680 Ala Moana, transforming it from a medical office building into something that Kamehameha Schools says is the future of Kakaako.
The four-story structure is in the final stages of being converted into a 54-unit residential rental building. Tucked in the corner of the top floor is a model one-bedroom unit staged by local designer Cathy Lee. It's just a glimpse of what the landowner has planned for Kakaako Mauka.
"We really started looking for an opportunity to change the district, and this, we thought, was the best opportunity because we wanted to bring residential into Kakaako at affordable prices," said Christian O'Donnell, senior asset manager for Kamehameha Schools.
When it's completed in mid-November, 680 Ala Moana will have 16 one-bedroom apartments and 48 studios.
Whitney Apo is a prospective renter who looked at the model unit. She has her own longtime impression of Kakaako. "I kinda see it more as a business district, not really like as apartments," she said.
Most people remember the automobile dealerships along Ala Moana and much of the more industrial-looking blocks. But Kamehameha Schools is aiming to turn the area into a neighborhood.
That change has already started, with activities like the popular Eat The Street event that draws thousands to the area once a month.
Ultimately, the landowner's 15-year master plan includes retail space and another 2,750 residential units.
On the other side of Ala Moana, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which recently gained land in an agreement with the state, is still developing its own master plan for development in Kakaako Makai.
Rent prices at 680 Ala Moana haven't been approved yet by the Hawaii Community Development Association, which oversees development in Kakaako. However, Kamehameha Schools said it wouldn't exceed federal median income guidelines, which would place rent for a studio at $1,530 a month.
"It'll be nice to live here. It'll be exciting," said Apo.
"We're really excited about it because this is a great offering, a great product, and starting off a great neighborhood," said O'Donnell.